3 Ways Digital Video Can Boost Retailers Beyond the Pandemic
Now that vaccines are here, brick-and-mortar retailers can finally imagine a return to normalcy in the near future. The question is, will their customers return to in-person shopping, or will they stick with their new habits of shopping online?
Either way, the pandemic has only accelerated a long transition to e-commerce, and brands will need to continue connecting with their customers digitally for the foreseeable future. And these days, that means videos.
According to our data (collected from videos playing on over 12,000 media sites), consumers are watching 50 percent more hours of video each day than they were before the pandemic. As far as retailers are concerned, videos related to style and fashion or hobbies and interests both saw a 19 percent increase in viewing time, while food and drink video viewing time was up even higher at 29 percent.
No matter the industry, consumers have come to expect video in their buying journey, and they’re watching more videos than ever before. With that in mind, here are three tips for how retailers can use video to engage audiences and drive sales:
Create Personal Shopping Experiences
In the age of Zoom, video has come to replace many routine face-to-face interactions, and shopping is no exception. Without the ability to talk to a sales rep in a brick-and-mortar store or, better yet, to touch and see the product up close, videos are the next best thing.
Explainer videos, how-to videos, and product review videos are a great way to keep audiences engaged, humanize your brand, and show off your personality. For consumers, watching a video where a person tells them what’s great about a product is simply more helpful and trustworthy than reading a text description. Indeed, 79 percent of consumers would rather watch a video than read text.
Livestreaming is another great way to build human connections with your audience. Our data shows that livestreaming is up more than 40 percent since the pandemic started, so there’s no better time to try it than now.
Livestreaming is real-time, unedited and genuine, and invites interactions between customers and brand representatives. Take your followers behind the scenes or broadcast the live unveiling of a new product. Another idea is to create an educational series of livestreamed content on how to use your products. These live videos can then be repurposed as evergreen content on your site.
Meet Your Customers in the Mindset to Buy
In addition to videos on your own website, another way to build your brand is to show up in relevant videos on other websites through advertising. However, you don’t want your videos showing up just anywhere. For an effective campaign, you’ll want to make sure that ads are targeted to audiences that are actively engaged in content relevant to your brand.
Just because third-party cookies, long the bread and butter for digital ad targeting, are on their way out, that doesn’t mean you can’t target ads anymore. In fact, with contextual targeting, the de-facto replacement for cookies, you can target ads based on the content audiences are viewing in real time, instead of what they were looking at a week ago, or any assumptions you may have based on their demographics.
Therefore, you can reach potential customers when they're in the mindset to buy — or at least to learn more about your product category. For example, say you sell barbecue sauce. With contextual targeting, you could show ads to people as they're actively watching videos about barbecuing. And it works. From what we’ve seen in our data, contextual targeting leads to a consistently higher clickthrough rate, and 54 percent of consumers are willing to view an ad to completion if it’s relevant to the content that they’re watching.
That said, not all contextual targeting is created equal. You’ll want to make sure your ads are targeted based on the content of the video itself, rather than the text on the URL it’s hosted on. This ensures that ads are relevant to the videos that audiences intend to watch, and leaves less room for error when it comes to placing ads on videos that are brand safe.
Don’t Forget Mobile and Connected TV
When using video, retailers should keep in mind that many consumers are doing their shopping on their phones these days. This underlines an important truth about video: videos should work seamlessly across all consumers’ screens, whether they be mobile, desktop or connected TV.
Videos are by nature more demanding for e-commerce platforms than other content, and that can make them prone to error. Therefore, it’s important to make sure that videos load and play without issue across devices. Otherwise, consumers may take their shopping elsewhere and your conversion rates will drop.
With analytics, you can discover where your audiences are watching your videos, or at what point they stop watching your videos, so you can identify points of friction and adjust your content strategy accordingly. For example, if you find audiences are watching on mobile, you’ll want to format your videos to fit their screens. Look for video platforms that include analytics integrations to give you these insights.
It’s no secret that the pandemic has made online shoppers of us all. Now is the time to optimize your retail business for the digital economy. Consumers have come to embrace video in their online shopping experience, and it’s time retailers embrace it as well.
Dave Otten is the CEO and co-founder of JW Player, a powerful and flexible video platform powered by the fastest, most-used HTML5 online video player.